Barney, who is known for retiring gloves after fielding miscues, said this piece of leather will live to see another day, essentially because it wasn’t to blame for an unlikely fielding gaffe.
Playing in shallow right field with Pirates lefty slugger Garrett Jones at the plate to start the 10th inning, a hard roller hit off the lip where the dirt meets the outfield grass and slightly changed course. Barney ended up getting a finger on his throwing hand in the way, ending his streak of 71 consecutive errorless games to start the season ... and he wasn’t about to cut off the offending digit.
The streak was 74 consecutive games going back to last year.
“That wasn’t a situation where I felt that the glove had anything to do with it,” Barney said in all seriousness. “There was a time in 2011 where I had a backhand that I thought didn’t stick like I wanted it to. I nicely put it in the garbage can.”
After the game, all of Barney’s gloves were lined up on the floor in front of his locker. Each one was in a different stage of flexibility, ready to take over if necessary. Those spare gloves won’t get their day just yet.
“That’s how people are when they’re kind of OCD about their glove,” Barney said. “It’s part of the game. I came back and got that double play and we got the win, so everybody is happy.”
Barney did rebound in fine fashion after the error on Jones to pick a scorching grounder from Pedro Alvarez just off the top of the dirt to turn a 4-6-3 double play. He then tracked down a ball that caromed wildly off pitcher Matt Guerrier to get the final out of the half-inning.
“It’s almost like when you’re young, a lot of the things you tell kids is, ‘Once something like that happens, the next play is the most important play,’” Barney said. “You’re trying to put in the bank and worry about it later and help your pitcher a little bit.”
Barney, who won the National League Gold Glove at second base last season, went 141 consecutive games without an error at one point in 2012. After that MLB record-tying streak for second basemen ended, Barney started the streak that just ended Sunday.
It’s that kind of glove play that made Sunday’s error so shocking and why Barney deals with the expectation that he should always be flawless in the field.
“I expect [perfection] out of myself,” Barney said. “I’ll probably take a few extra balls out there the next time we play a team that requires a shift on a hitter. We’ll see. It’s a play I can make, but those things happen.
“At the end of the year, you go back and look at the mistakes you made and work on it in the offseason and how to fix those mistakes.”